By Christian Caple The Spokesman-Review
PULLMAN — There was no doubt that Brophy Prep quarterback Tyler Bruggman was going to sign with Washington State on Wednesday. Until there was.
But even after the four-star quarterback took longer than expected to make his final decision, then sign and fax his National Letter of Intent, the piece of paper wound up where everyone thought it would.
Bruggman’s apparent flirtation with Arizona State didn’t materialize, and the Phoenix prospect assumed his role as the gem of coach Mike Leach’s 24-player recruiting class at Washington State.
Leach, who was posted in the WSU football offices as letters from other players came churning out of the fax machine, said he never had a doubt Bruggman was going to stick to his months-long commitment to the Cougars.
“Tyler was of course sporting the crimson and gray as well as a crimson and gray tie,” said Leach, noting he also received a lasagna recipe from Bruggman’s mother recently. “As a person who doesn’t exactly embrace wearing ties … if a guy’s going to wear a tie somewhere, he means business. We’re excited to have Tyler and couldn’t be any happier to have him on board.”
Maybe Leach didn’t lose his cool. But the same can’t be said for hordes of anxious WSU fans who wondered during Wednesday’s morning hours whether they might be losing the highest-rated prospect in the Cougars’ signing class.
Those few tense hours were set in motion by the changed mind of quarterback Josh Dobbs, a four-star prospect out of Georgia who had committed to Arizona State in June but switched his commitment on Wednesday and instead signed with Tennessee.
That sent the Sun Devils scrambling to replace him, according to reports. So it made sense that they went after Bruggman, the Phoenix native who strongly considered ASU before he committed to WSU several months ago.
Tweets were fired from many corners, painting a picture of Bruggman torn between two schools. Richard Obert, an Arizona Republic reporter, tweeted that Bruggman had been sick recently and perhaps that had complicated his plans, though he was still expected to sign with WSU. Others, including Scout.com reporter Jason Jewell, reported the possibility of Bruggman changing his mind and staying home to play for ASU.
But when the ink settled, Bruggman sat at a table wearing a Cougars hat and crimson tie, signed his name to a letter of intent and faxed it to WSU. Crisis averted. If there ever was one.
“Tyler’s been solid from the beginning,” Leach said. “High integrity kid, person of his word.”
Bruggman didn’t return phone messages left for him on Wednesday. But he told reporters at the signing day event in Phoenix that his decision was a “51-49” split between WSU and ASU, and that he ultimately wound up sticking to his commitment because he wants to be a man of his word.
The 6-foot-2, 202-pound left-hander threw for 2,803 yards and 33 touchdowns on 177-of-323 passing as a senior last season.
“First of all, he’s a real self-starter guy, he’s a really intelligent guy,” Leach said. “Might have the highest GPA and test score combination on the team, although we do have some high ones. Really just the leadership quality and the way he commands his team. The ball comes off his hands efficiently. Really the most important thing a quarterback does is command an offense, which I think he does a good job of.”
Bruggman is the only true quarterback in this year’s signing class, though Bellevue’s Isaac Dotson could end up there, too. WSU also signed six offensive linemen, five defensive linemen, three receivers — including junior college standout Vince Mayle — two running backs, three defensive backs, two linebackers and a tight end.
Scout.com lists three committed players — cornerback Marcellus Pippins, running back Olito Thompson and cornerback Markell Sanders — who have not signed.
Leach said he isn’t sure if there will be additional signees.
“We’re fortunate to pretty well have our entire class,” Leach said.
WSU’s class currently ranks 39th in the country, according to Scout.com, and 52nd by Rivals.com.
“We needed numbers and quality,” Leach said, “and I thought we got both.”